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Hello! I recently adopted a 3 year old female German Shepherd. She has been with us for 10 days now, and I think has some adjusting to do. She is very obedient and calm, but she has one bad habit. She will bite peoples ankles when they get to close to me. It not a constant reaction either, she does it randomly. She had stopped doing it for 5 days or so. Yesterday while working in a greenhouse with a coworker she nipped his ankle when he walked by her.

I'm not sure how to train her to stop doing this or why she's doing it. I do think she is shaken up from the move and hopefully she will stop when she is more comfortable with our situation. She's getting plenty of exercise and attention, we go hiking for 2 hours daily. We are also registered for a training class Saturday morning.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated! Thank you!
 

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With a 3 yr old dog you don't redirect, you correct! Let her know that the behavior is unwanted. Do so with as little pressure as needed to get the point across, but definitely let her know it's gonna stop!

And, congratulations on your new dog!
 

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The behavior isn’t likely to go away on its own if left alone, even so, I wouldn’t wait for that to happen. No matter if it’s an old or new behavior, its self reinforcing and by continuing, it creates message that it’s acceptable - becoming her new norm in your environment and under your leadership.

Personally, I would not correct a dog that I’ve only had for just over a week, especially if the behavior could be coming from a place of insecurity. Instead, manage her environment so that she has a safe space to observe the new scene / routine and is not put in a position to feel the need to react. Stop letting her practice the behavior. Your trainer would be the best person to assess the motivation behind it - Over-stimulated? Aggression? Resource guarding? Playful/puppy behavior? Herding instinct?

Ultimately she may very well need to be corrected for it but unless it’s purely a reactionary response (from me, due to surprise or pain) I believe in giving rescues adequate time to settle in, develop trust / rapport and a chance to understand an alternative or preferred behavior. This also gives you a chance to further assess the dogs overall temperament and how she might respond to a correction - be it verbal or physical.

So for now, you essentially only have 1 more day before borrowing your trainers eyes, try and prevent it and should it happen, use it as an oppprtunity for information collecting. What’s the situation, trigger, demeanor immediately before/after, etc.

Best of luck!
 
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